This approach may take longer time in the beginning but pays off by making sure all participants feel ownership of the accomplishments. If you simply vote on every decision, half the room leaves unmotivated and the campaign will lose out on the ideas formed by your consensus discussion. That doesn’t mean that everyone is happy with every decision, it means that everyone is ok with the decision.
Start by organising events that have a low threshold for people to join. Host a movie screening, organise a picnic, invite a guest lecturer or start a study circle. Whatever you do, make it fun and give people a chance to ask questions and engage. At the end of every event make sure you can advertise the next meeting/ party /coffee so that people can join again or follow you on social media. Give people opportunities to help out organising and your team will start to take shape.
A team is the people dedicated enough to go to the meetings, organise the events and put in the hard work. They believe in the cause and will put a lot of their free time into it. The supporters are the people who will turn up to your events and actions, sign your petitions and help you spread the word. They don’t have much time to commit, but they look for opportunities to help out and you should keep building your relation with them.
As your movement begins to grow make sure to keep the following principles in mind to keep building the engagement of both your team and your supporters:
- Make sure your team and supporters are clear about HOW you are going to create change. What steps will you take to influence which people to have maximum impact. People show up when they believe change is possible.
- Share ownership: Let people develop and implement their own ideas and give away as much control to your supporters as you can and allow them to shape the campaign with you.
- Once we start learning about the technicalities of a cause we tend to get a bit too nerdy about it and end up only speaking to like-minded people. Meet people where they are with language and actions that support their goals and build a broader base.
- Make your supporters the stars of the show, highlight the contributions of newcomers and make it fun! Don’t be afraid to collaborate and give credit to other groups working on similar issues. Show up for their causes, karma is real!
- Don’t ignore power dynamics. Each group has different stages and be aware of how your group is doing and what their needs are. However it is easy to fall into the trap of a few people making all the decisions or that information isn’t shared with everyone. Try to build in rotation in responsibilities and create ways for everyone’s voices to be heard or you team will lose ownership and the best ideas won’t be heard.
- Pace yourselves. People who want to make the world a better place tend not to take care of themselves or their team. Burning out as a changemaker is tragically common and hurts our movements. Plan in breaks, check to make sure that not just a few people are doing all the work, and make sure to keep your old hobbies as well.